Our Family

Our Family

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Get to Know King David by Nancy I. Sanders

Book Description:  A shepherd and a king, David lived an adventurous life. He protected his family’s sheep from lions and bears. He fought a giant with just a sling and stone. He even spent years hiding from men who were trying to kill him. And eventually, David became a great king. But David was also a man of God. Learn more about this hero from the Bible and his exciting place in history. Discover what it was like to grow up in ancient Israel and then be a king of God’s people. King David - part of the Get to Know series - will teach you everything you need to know about an imperfect young man whom God used to do great things!

If you read my blog regularly, you know by now how much I love this series of books.  I have been able to review all of the books in this series so far and they are wonderful!  They are packed full of information about different Bible heroes and the time period in which they lived.  This biography features King David.  We start out hearing about David the shepherd, the anointing of David, his music, and of course killing Goliath.  The next several chapters deal with Saul's anger against David, David and Jonathan's friendship, David in hiding waiting for God's plan.  Then it moves into David being crowned King and some of the battles and problems that his kingdom faced including David sending Uriah to be killed in battle so he could marry his wife.  The last two chapters of the book talk about the plans for the temple and David's throne ruling forever through the Messiah.

In this biography, children get to not just read about the life of King David, but to experience it as well through color photographs, art work, and maps.  Plus the book is full of definitions, historical information, Did You Know facts, and information about other Bible Heroes during David's time. This is a great, full color biography for your children to read and enjoy.

 Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions were my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Homeschool Wrap Up:Week One

This week was our first week of the 20142015 school year.  We are easing back into our school year one subject at a time.  This week we started working in our new Math U See math books.  Nick is doing Pre-Algebra, Alex is in Delta, Anthony is using Gamma, and Christian is using Beta.  I do not start Math U See until 1st grade, so Lily did not get a math book.  She will use some worksheets I print off the computer and maybe a simple workbook or two.  We still use our Learning Wrap Ups and Palettes which are great for review and mastery of math facts.

The first day of the week, they watch the Math U See video and complete a worksheet.  Then they do a new worksheet each of the next three days.  If they show they understand the concept by Thursday, we move on to a new lesson the next week.  If they do not, we continue on with the same lesson until they do show mastery.

Lily, Christian, Anthony, and Emelia had some fun building with the manipulative blocks.

The children have been very anxious to get started on the Lego WeDo curriculum that I bought.  My disc drive is broken in my laptop, so first I had to order a new DVD drive so I could load the software.  It arrived last week so we were able to get started on Tuesday.  We are working on learning how to build the models and program the software.  There are several different practice type exercises we are working through.  They have really enjoyed it.  It is very cool!  It is also very easy to understand and the boys have been amazed they could "tell" the program what to do and it works!  They can't wait until we get through the practice exercises and get to work on the first real program.

Chelsea started classes at the local community college.  She is taking College Algebra, Biology, Composition I, Western Civilization to 1700, and a required course called Success Strategies.  She has classes Mon-Thurs with Fridays off, the same schedule she has had her whole homeschool career.  Her classes are small and she knew several people that were in class with her. She got off to a rather uneventful start with the exception that one of her teachers was not able to attend classes this week, but will hopefully be back soon.

This next week we will be adding grammar, literature, and writing to our school day.

Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Day of School Pictures

A few days late posting, but better late then never!  I always try to take pictures on our first and last day of school.  Tuesday was our first day of school. It was after lunch before I took the pictures though, so they are probably not as good as they would've been first thing in the morning before they had been out to play and eaten lunch. Except for Chelsea of course.  She had an early class so I grabbed her picture as she headed out the door.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Happy Kids Songs

Happy Kids Songs Review
You may be familiar with Dr. Mac for his songwriting on the hit PBS series Jay Jay the Jet Plane.  He has teamed up with Brian Man and several singers and musicians to put together Happy Kids Songs, a fun way to boost children's character, and social and emotional skills. As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we received the following items to use and review:

Friends and Sharing (set 1)
Happiness and Attitude (set 5)
Manners and Character (set 6)


Happy Kids Song Workbook: Hands on Activities to Build Character, Social and Emotional Skills

Happy Kids Songs were written with children 3-8 in mind, but it can be enjoyed by children a little younger and older as well.  The songs are not just made to entertain but to help children learn important tools for living.  There are 8 different albums available with 5 songs on each album. Albums can be purchased in either mp3 or iTunes (mp4) format.  The albums cost $4.95 each or you can purchase individual songs for .99 each. Each of the albums also have bonus activity pages to go along with the songs, or you can purchase the printed out copy of the Happy Kids Songs Workbook for $12.56 with all of the activities for all of the songs.  

Happy Kids Songs Albums Include:

Manners and Character-H-O-N-E-S-T-Y, The Magic Word, Quirks, The Golden Rule, Six Little Kids

Happiness and Attitude-Shake It Out and Dance, Who Knows What's a Kudo?, I Don't Understand, Be Good to Yourself, Better Together

Friends and Sharing-Sailing on the Seven C's, Everybody Wants to Find a Friend, Sharing Friends, Happy as Happy Can Be, Together

Skills and Bullying-Bye, Bye Bully, Follow and Lead, Same and Different Too, Let Me Play Too, The Gift of Giving

Feelings and Fears-Big Kids Know How to Cry, That's What a Dad Would Do, Go Away Bad Thoughts, Let Em' Out, Tell Someone

Practice and Success-Reach Out, The Carousel Song, What You Can Do, Practice, It's About a Sunrise

Respect and Responsibility-We're the Chorus, Give it Back, Diplodocus, Clean up Time, Soldier of Peace

Talking and Listening-Talk it Out, Say Whatcha Gotta Say, At the Same Time, Talkin about Talkin, Don't Say Maybe
You can listen to some samples on this page.

I listened to Happy Kids Songs with my 3 and 5 year old daughters.  Each album downloads as a zip file and then you extract the files so you can play the songs.  Due to our slow internet connection it did take awhile for the albums to download, but once I got them downloaded we were good to go. The songs are upbeat and have very catchy rhythms and lyrics (beware you may find yourself singing them at the strangest times.)  They all have a great message to them.  You certainly do not have to worry about any inappropriate content sneaking its way in to these songs. Children will be able to relate easily to many of the situations presented in the songs.  There is a great variety of both adults and children singing and a wide range of instruments and music styles used which is sure to appeal to and keep the attention of many children.  Some of my girls favorites were Shake it Out, Sailing on the Seven C's, and the Magic Word.

The workbook contains the lyrics to all of the songs and also a variety of activities to go along with each song.  Activities range from drawing, to coloring, to mazes, word searches, dot to dots, and more.  These pages make a great companion to the songs.  

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below.
Click to read Crew Reviews

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Wizzy Gizmo

Wizzy Gizmo Review
Our latest review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew was Book One: Who Created Everything from Wizzy Gizmo.  I know you are trying to figure out who or what Wizzy Gizmo is.  Wizzy Gizmo is a series of bible products to help parents and Sunday School teaches equip children by exploring God's word.  The products in this series include Bible books for kids, audio dramas, flash cards, and more. 
Wizzy Gizmo Review
Book One: Who Created Everything is a 57  page paperback book that was written for children ages 4-12.  In the book we meet a young boy named Eli who has just moved to Sunnyville and was hoping for someone to play with when he met a girl named Olive.  Soon Olive's friends Summer and Thomas come by with exciting news that Wizzy has finished his new invention.  The children race off to the Gizmo Shack where they see exciting and amazing things including Gizmovision, the newest invention that transforms any book into a life-like world inside a virtual bubble allowing you to touch, feel, taste, and smell it.  The children, Wizzy, Qwacky (the robot duck), and Pepe (the talking dog) test out the invention by going back to the very beginning of time the book of Genesis in the Bible.  The have an opportunity not just to see the creation of the world, but to experience it as well.

The book is split up into different chapters including:
Day One of Creation
Day Two of Creation
Day Three of Creation
Day Four of Creation
Day Five of Creation
Day Six of Creation

There is a section of Review Questions in the back of the book, as well as a vocabulary section defining the more challenging words in the book.  As the child is reading through the book, words that can be found in the back of the book are in bold so the child can quickly flip to the back of the book to check the meaning of the word.

You can purchase Book One: Who Created Everything for $12.99.  It is also available as an audio drama for $14.99. The second book in the series In His Image is also currently available for purchase as a paperback book.  

I read Book One: Who Created Everything aloud to my 3,5,7 and 9 year olds.  We used it as our nightly bedtime story completing one chapter per day.  This book was  a hit with both the children and their mom!  Even my youngest asked to read it again when we finished it the first time.  We loved the story.  My children are very familiar with the first chapter of Genesis and the Creation of the world, but this book took that story and presented it to them in a different light, making it like they weren't just reading about it but actually experiencing it.  They loved the characters especially Qwacky the duck and the funny things he says.  The full color illustrations are wonderful.  I really like that the book doesn't used "dumbed down" vocabulary but instead using some great and challenging vocabulary as well as giving them the definition right therein the book and some of them during the course of the story as well.  The review questions at the back of the book help your children to remember everything that they learned in the course of the book.  But the most important thing for me is that the book stays true to God's word. 

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below. 

Click to read Crew Reviews

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Easing Back Into the New Homeschool Year

Summer is almost over.  Can you believe it?  Our local public schools start back tomorrow as well as the local Community College that Chelsea will be attending.  We have done some school all summer long, mostly reviews and a little reading and math.  The last two weeks we have taken off completely and not had any school work at all to do.  This week we will be working on easing back into our regular homeschool year.

A few years ago after a lot of frustration both on the children's part and mine I decided to go with a different approach then going from little to no school over the summer to a full schedule on the first day.  Instead I decided we were going to ease back into our school year and it worked so well we have continued with that method ever since.

What we do is start back to school with one subject at a time adding a new subject every week until we are back up to a full schedule.  We start with our afternoon school work so the children have plenty of time to get outside in the morning when it is cooler out.  We will start with math, then the next week add in writing, literature, and grammar, and the next week spelling and/or Latin. The 4th week we will add in our Bible lesson in the morning followed by history (2 days per week) and science (2 days per week.)  It takes a month to work up to a full schedule, but by then we are ready to back at it full time.

This year we have decided to have a "Not Back to School" celebration on Monday and will start in on Math on Tuesday.  I had read somewhere about the "Not Back to School" celebration and thought it was a wonderful idea.  It is a celebration for homeschoolers on the first day the public schools in their area head back to school.  We will be having a pizza party and some outdoor games.  other people choose to take their children out to breakfast or to museums or other public places that have been crowded all summer but are now empty since school is open again.

I am excited about our upcoming school year!  I am very happy with our curriculum choices and possible reviews we have coming up.  I have started making plans for our once a month Grandview science days that this year will also be combined with a once a month art co-op that I will be teaching.  There are several great field trip opportunities that are happening this fall.

I hope you have a great start to your school year!

Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Curriculum Favorites: All About Spelling

*This post contains affiliate links.  I only form affiliate relationships with companies whose products I actually use and can recommend!

There are a lot of good spelling curriculum for homeschoolers.  I have had an opportunity to review several great ones and have bought and used several good ones over the years as well.  But, All About Spelling still stands out as being my favorite and in this post I am going to explain why.

One of the biggest reasons I love All About Spelling is because it works.  It has taught my struggling readers how to spell as well as read.  Why does it work?  I think for us it works so well because of it's multi-sensory approach.  Rather than have children try and memorize and write random word lists, All About Spelling teaches rules that make sense.  Students have an opportunity to see, hear, say, build (and this was a key step for us) and write the words.  Using this approach suits a wide variety of learners.

I like that it is not grade level based.  There are 7 levels of AAS and everyone should start out at level one.  Older students will go through it more quickly, but by starting at level one you can ensure that your students know and remember all of the rules.  How quickly you move through the levels will depend on your student.

It is scripted for the teacher.  You do not have to spend a lot of prep time for each lesson.  You will have to spend some time when you first get the curriculum setting up your card box and your letter tiles, but once that is done it is a matter of making sure you have any you need ready to add to your board and you are ready to go.  Even though it is scripted, it is still flexible.  If your child shows comprehension of that lesson very quickly, you can move on to the next lesson.  If they do not there are extra words and dictation sentences that you can use to keep working on the same spelling rule.

It is cost effective for even large families.  This is one of the biggest selling points to me.  When I first looked at AAS, I thought it was expensive compared to other spelling curriculum.  But, when you add up the price of buying a new workbook for each student every year, All About Spelling actually works out to be much cheaper.  Your student does not write in the book, instead they do their work on a white board, so it can be used for multiple students.  Even if you only have one child, AAS resells very well and you could sell your used levels lowering your cost.

Are there any negatives?  Some people feel that it is too teacher intensive, especially if you have several children working in different levels.  It takes me around 20 minutes or so a day for the spelling part, longer if we are reading from one of the All About Reading Readers to go along with our lesson.  If you have children with similar abilities you can group them together.  My oldest is in 7th grade and does not do spelling.  My next oldest is working through Level 4.  My next two are in 2nd and 3rd grade and are very similar ability wise so they will be working through Level 2.  My K will not start Level One until next year.

I have used curriculum that is much more teacher intensive and some that is less.  I make sure to carve out the time I need for AAS 4 times a week because I know it works.  After trying many different spelling curricula, All About Spelling is the one that finally made things click for my son who is mildly dyslexic.  He has made HUGE improvements in his spelling and reading, some of which may have been age related, but mostly was due to using products from All About Learning Press. 

Pssst I know this is a Spelling post, but we love All About Reading too!

Lily doing a Pre-1 paper